This monument honors the contribution of Newfoundland, which did not join Canada until 1949. Like the Scots, there is a strong sense of national pride still in Newfoundland. Before 1949, they were a separate Dominion of Great Britain. Notice how the flags are flying straight out. It isn’t summer in France, and it was cold. Of course my long pants and vest are safely back in the hotel room. What an unprepared idiot. You know I was the only fool in short pants today.
When George embarked on the massive planning for our month long Great Adventure, he wanted to find a place where we could actually walk down into a trench used in the Great War. The Beaumont-Hamel Memorial was just the ticket. It wasn’t a long drive from the crater, and they had parking for us. This monument is run by the Canadian government and the guy who we talked to in front was, in fact, a bilingual Canadian. So, we got to speak our native language to someone besides ourselves. He said that he is a teacher, and is working here in France for four months between teaching contracts. We discussed baseball in Montréal, and he said there’s enough people interested in going to the games. When owned by the Labatt’s (of brewery fame), the Expos had a quality product on the field and outdrew the Mets. But, when cheapskate owners pulled the same nonsense Lew Wolff of the A’s is pulling, well, fans lost interest and the rest is a shameful story in MLB history. But I digress.
I took these standing on top of the crater. I don’t know the direction of the view, as my built in compass is all out of kilter.
This is a good story. The Germans were encamped here in an advantageous position and the British came up with an idea. They tunneled underneath the encampment, stuffed tons of dynamite in the tunnels and blew the Germans to bits and pieces, creating the crater. This crater is alleged to be the largest man made crater on earth. I guess you don’t count open pit mining in this consideration. I just love this story.
This monument at Thiepval dominates the landscape here where the battle was fought in 1916. The names of the dead and missing soldiers from the Battle of the Somme on the Allies side are chiseled into the stone. In May of this year, the leeches that are the British Royal Family made an appearance here to mark the 100 year anniversary of the worst day in British military history, when they suffered over 56,000 casualties in one day. We talked about how the birthrate dropped in France and Britain because so many men of marrying age were lost in the Great War, and how 20 years later that led to the appeasement of Hitler before WWII started. The memory of men lost softened the stomach for war. It is always good to know people smarter than you when you go places on vacation.
There is a huge monument here on the grounds that I’ll get to in the next post.
The museum mainly concentrated on the Battle of the Somme, but they had a few displays on the emerging use of aircraft during the Great War.
The Fab 4 got in the car early this morning and made the 90 minute drive to Thiepval, where this museum is dedicated to the Battle of the Somme in May of 1916. That’s a hundred years ago this last May. Many of the places we have gone to here are in very rural France.
Mark commented that this colorful uniform works in parades, but says “shoot me” on the battlefield.